Homemade Strawberry Marshmallows

Strawberry Marshmallows  I don’t love store-bought marshmallows.  They’re too sweet and spongy, and taste too artificial for me. Yes, they have their use for rice krispies treats and s’mores, but that’s as far as my concern for them goes.  You can understand my confusion then, when I made peppermint marshmallows this past Christmas and fell in love.  It’s a whole different ballgame.  The texture and taste is so much different, and I actually want to eat these by the handful.  These strawberry marshmallows are just as good and PERFECT for Valentine’s Day.  I made the most adorable Strawberry Chocolate S’mores with them!Strawberry Marshmallows

It’s not as hard as it might seem to make them, it just takes a little patience, and if you don’t have a stand mixer, some soapy water to clean the base of your hand mixer.Strawberry Marshmallows

Strawberry Marshmallows (adapted from Betty Crocker)

  • Butter for greasing
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 3 1/2 tsp strawberry extract
  • 12-15 drops red food color
  1. Generously grease bottom and sides of 9×9 baking dish with butter; dust with 1 tablespoon of the powdered sugar.  In bowl of stand mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water to soften; set aside.
  2. In 2-quart saucepan, heat granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved.  Heat to boiling; cook without stirring 30-45 minutes to 240°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into cup of very cold water forms a ball that holds its shape but is pliable; remove from heat.  If this is going very slowly, you can increase heat to medium-low.
  3. Slowly pour syrup into softened gelatin while beating on low speed. Increase speed to high; beat 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture is white and has almost tripled in volume. Add strawberry extract and food coloring; you can adjust flavor and color to your taste.  Beat on high speed 1 minute.  Pour into baking dish, patting lightly with wet hands.  Let stand uncovered at least 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Dust cutting board with about 1 tablespoon powdered sugar.  Place remaining powdered sugar in small bowl.  To remove marshmallow mixture, loosen sides from dish and gently lift in one piece onto cutting board.  Using sharp knife greased with butter, cut into squares of desired size (1 inch by 1 inch works well).  Dust bottom and sides of each marshmallow by dipping into bowl of powdered sugar.  Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 weeks.

Notes: Don’t worry if your sugar mixture looks yellow as it boils, it will turn bright white when you start to beat it.  I am very impatient, and the heating steps were taking longer than I felt they should have, so I actually had my heat at 3-4/10 to speed it up, and it was fine.  For the heart marshmallows you see above, I sliced a piece in half to reduce the thickness, then pressed down with a buttered cookie cutter.  I tried this with a smaller flower shaped cookie cutter that didn’t work as well – I think because the shape was not as simple as the heart.

Homemade Chocolate Graham Crackers

Chocolate Graham CrackersHow cute are these homemade chocolate graham crackers?  And they were pretty easy to make, too!  Chocolate Graham Crackers
I cut them into hearts for Valentine’s day, but you could do any shape, or just leave them rectangular!  They tasted pretty close to the store-bought ones as far as flavor goes.  They weren’t quite as crispy right out of the oven, but they hardened a bit after they were completely cool.  I think I can safely say I won’t be buying graham crackers again!Chocolate Graham Crackers
Chocolate Graham CrackersChocolate Graham Crackers: (from The Kitchenarian)
  • 1/2 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons cold milk
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Cut two pieces of parchment paper to fit in your cookie sheet.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, salt, cocoa, sugar, and baking powder together. Cut the butter into the flour mixture using a pastry blender.
  3. Combine the honey and milk in a small bowl, stir until the honey dissolves completely in the milk.
  4. Add the liquid into the bowl with the dry ingredients and mix in with a fork until the dough comes together. Add a little more milk if necessary.
  5. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and fold it over gently 10 to 12 times, until smooth.  Divide the dough in half and keep the remaining dough covered in the bowl.  Transfer half the dough to a piece of parchment.
  6. Roll the dough into a rectangle shape until it is 1/16-inch thick. (It will be approx. 10 x 14 inches.) Trim the edges and prick the dough evenly with a fork.  Place the rolled-out dough pieces on the lined baking sheet.  Repeat with the remaining dough. For the hearts, I rolled the dough, pressed the cookie cutter into it, and peeled up the scrap dough, and added it to the remaining half, which I shaped into a rectangle as instructed.
  7. Bake the crackers for 12-15 minutes, or until you begin to smell chocolate. Halfway through baking, sprinkle top of crackers with sugar.
  8. Remove from the oven, sprinkle with a little more sugar and immediately cut them into rectangles with a pizza wheel or knife if desired. Transfer to a cooling rack.

Notes: Be patient when cutting in the butter, don’t stop until it’s crumbly – it won’t stick together like a dough, but make sure the butter is well distributed.  I ran a pizza cutter gently across the top before baking so the paired pieces would break apart when cooled (and to make the break in the heart), and then cut them into squares after they’d cooled for a couple minutes.

Homemade Soft Pretzels

Homemade Soft Pretzels via elisebakesI made these pretzels this weekend and was very impressed!  They were so easy to make and were perfect;  great taste and a fluffy texture.  Oh, and on top of that, they were done within 30 minutes. That’s right, toasty warm soft pretzels ready in a half hour!  We served them with beer cheese fondue dip for a little get together we hosted – it was phenomenal!  The recipe made quite a few, so I’ll cut it in half if I’m making them just for the two of us.  Regardless, I think it’s safe to say I’ll be making these again! Homemade Soft Pretzels via elisebakes Soft Pretzels (from Sally’s Baking Addiction)Homemade Soft Pretzels via elisebakes

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 1 packet active yeast (2 1/4 tsp)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 4 – 4 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 large egg
  • course sea salt for sprinkling
    1. Preheat oven to 425F degrees and line one (or two depending on how big you make your pretzels) baking sheet with parchment paper.
    2. Add warm water to a bowl and sprinkle yeast over top.  Mix with a whisk until dissolved (there might be a few clumps, that’s okay!).Homemade Soft Pretzels via elisebakes
    3. Add salt and sugar and mix.
    4. Add the flour, one cup at a time until the dough is no longer sticky (I used just over 4 cups); it helps if the flour has been sifted or mixed with a whisk first.  A wooden spoon was perfect for this.
    5. Knead the dough for 5 minutes on a floured surface and shape into a ball.
    6. Using a knife; cut dough into sections about 1/4 cup in size.  Using 1/4 cup sized sections, I ended up with 14 soft pretzels (wondering why there are only 11 in the picture?  We got a little eager and dove in as soon as they were out of the oven…oops!)
    7. Roll each section into a rope – mine were 17-19 inches long.  Shape into a pretzel.
    8. Whisk the egg in a shallow bowl.  Dip each pretzel into the egg and place on parchment paper.  Sprinkle with salt.
    9. Bake for 10 minutes, then turn oven to broil and broil for 3-5 minutes until top is golden brown – be sure to watch it so they don’t burn!

Homemade Soft Pretzels via elisebakes

Chocolate Covered Caramels

Homemade Caramels via elisebakesIt’s no secret that I love caramel.  I stumbled across this recipe on pinterest and knew I would be adding these caramels to my list of things to make for Christmas.  I followed the outline exactly.  If you have any hesitation about making caramel (I know I did before my first batch of salted caramel sauce), fret not; they have a video tutorial on the page as well as an extensive tutorial on homemade caramels, again complete with video.  I doubled the recipe and let it set in a 9×9 baking pan – you can never have too much caramel.  I let my sugar/water reach 320 F, but mine had already turned a darker amber color (as opposed to the lighter color on the video); they still tasted great!  Below I have added their recipe (but doubled the ingredients) and added my notes.  It’s easier than it looks and less far tedious than the very long instruction list would suggest!

Chocolate Covered Caramels (from inspiredtaste.net)Homemade Caramels via elisebakes

  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 tablespoons water
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 2 cups sugar
  • chocolate for dipping, I did both semi-sweet and dark
  • optional: sea salt for sprinkling
  1. Lightly oil a 9 x 5 inch loaf pan then measure and cut a piece of parchment paper that will fit inside the pan and come up the sides by at least 1 inch. Next, lightly oil the parchment paper and place into the pan. Set the pan aside.
  2. Cut each stick of butter into 8 pieces then combine with heavy cream in a small microwave-safe bowl. Heat in the microwave for 2 1/2 – 3 1/2 minutes until hot and butter has melted. Set aside.
  3. In a small saucepan combine the water and corn syrup. Then, add the sugar, but try your best not to splatter the sugar up the sides of the pan. Now, use a spoon to gently stir the sugar into the water and corn syrup, just moistening the sugar.
  4. Heat over medium heat until the sugar has come to a boil. Then, cover with a lid for 1 minute. This adds steam/moisture to the pan, so any sugar that may have stuck to the sides of the pan melts and falls back into the boiling sugar.
  5. Remove lid then attach a candy thermometer to the side of the saucepan. Then, cook sugar for 5 to 10 minutes [closer to 20 for me – maybe I didn’t have the heat high enough], until the sugar reaches a temperature of 320 degrees F (160 degrees C). At this temperature, the sugar will take on a light amber color around the edges of the pan. [Mine was a amber throughout]
  6. The moment the sugar reaches 320 degrees F (160 degrees C), carefully pour about a sixth of the butter and cream mixture then stir [since I doubled it, I added closer to one tenth at a time], using the base of the candy thermometer to incorporate it. Repeat with the remaining cream and butter. The sugar will bubble violently as you add the butter and cream – so do this carefully and slowly to prevent the mixture from bubbling over the sides of the saucepan.
  7. Continue cooking for another 5 to 10 minutes [again, it took me a little longer], until the caramel reaches a temperature of 240 degrees F. This will create a soft caramel, if you want slightly harder caramels, bring the temperature closer to 245 degrees F. [I let mine go until 245, I like a chewy caramel]
  8. The moment the caramel reaches your desired temperature, pour into the prepared loaf pan. Then, let the caramel cool 3 1/2 hours.
  9. Unmold the caramel. If the caramel is too soft to work with, place into the refrigerator 30 to 45 minutes to firm up. Then, use a large sharp knife to cut into your desired shape. We like to cut into 1-inch by 1-inch squares.
  10. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
  11. Use a large knife to chop chocolate into small pieces. Separate about 1/3 cup of the chocolate and set aside then add the remaining chocolate to a microwave-safe bowl. Add the butter then microwave for 30 to 45 seconds, stir then repeat until melted (stirring after every 30 to 45-seconds). Once the chocolate has melted, add the 1/3 cup of chocolate and stir until smooth and shiny.
  12. Use two forks to dip each caramel into the melted chocolate then place onto waxed paper. Place a little salt on top of each caramel then allow chocolate to cool and set.
  13. Wrap caramels in plastic wrap or waxed paper and enjoy immediately, or you can refrigerate or freeze for enjoying later.Homemade Caramels via elisebakes

Peppermint Marshmallows and Chocolate Covered Candy Canes

    Homemade Peppermint MarshmallowsThese peppermint marshmallows and chocolate covered candy canes make perfect Christmas gifts with a jar of hot chocolate mix! Chocolate-Dipped Candy CanesHomemade Peppermint Marshmallows

I was a little hesitant about making homemade marshmallows, but it was actually very easy – a little time consuming, but easy!  It got a little messy because I used a hand mixer as opposed to a stand mixer, but my mixer came clean with some warm water and soap.  Definitely something I will do again!Homemade Peppermint Marshmallows

Peppermint Marshmallows (from Betty Crocker)

  • Butter for greasing
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp unflavored gelatin
  • ½ cup cold water
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 1 cup corn syrup
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 tsp pure peppermint extract
  • 8 to 10 drops red food colorHomemade Peppermint Marshmallows
  1. Generously grease bottom and sides of 11×7-inch (2-quart) glass baking ish with butter; dust with 1 tablespoon of the powdered sugar. In bowl of stand mixer, sprinkle gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water to soften; set aside.
  2. In 2-quart saucepan, heat granulated sugar, corn syrup, salt and 1/2 cup water over low heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved. Heat to boiling [it was taking a long time for it to get to boiling, so I turned the heat up to medium, stirring constantly – when it started boiling, I turned it back down]; cook without stirring about 30 minutes to 240°F on candy thermometer or until small amount of mixture dropped into cup of very cold water forms a ball that holds its shape but is pliable; remove from heat. [It took longer than 30 minutes on low, and I stopped mine at 235°F or so and it worked fine.  I was concerned because mine had taken on a slightly yellow color, but once I started beating it, it was completely white.]
  3. Slowly pour syrup into softened gelatin while beating on low speed. Increase speed to high; beat 8 to 10 minutes or until mixture is white and has almost tripled in volume. Add peppermint extract; beat on high speed 1 minute. Pour into baking dish, patting lightly with wet hands. Drop food color randomly onto top of marshmallow mixture. Pull table knife through food color to create swirl pattern over top. Let stand uncovered at least 8 hours or overnight.
  4. Dust cutting board with about 1 tablespoon powdered sugar. Place remaining powdered sugar in small bowl. To remove marshmallow mixture, loosen sides from dish and gently lift in one piece onto cutting board. Using sharp knife greased with butter, cut into squares of desired size (1 inch by 1 inch works well). Dust bottom and sides of each marshmallow by dipping into bowl of powdered sugar. Store in airtight container at room temperature up to 3 weeks.Chocolate-Dipped Candy Canes

Chocolate-Dipped Candy CanesShaped Candy Canes dipped in Chocolate

  1. Preheat oven to 250°F.  Cover a baking pan with parchment paper.  Lay out candy canes on parchment paper leaving 1/2 – 1 inch between each.  It is easier to work with a couple at a time.
  2. Heat for 5-10 minutes and remove pan from oven.  Keep an eye on them; if you overheat, they will melt and flatten!
  3. Pick up a candy cane and gently pull to shape it with your hands.  If you don’t pick it up, it may stick to the parchment paper and stretch the swirls/stripes on the back side.  If it becomes to hard to shape, just place it back in the oven for a couple minutes.  I found it helpful to heat for a smaller amount of time, shape a little, heat again and continue to shape.
  4. Allow to cool completely before handling.
  5. Dip in melted chocolate if you’d like to.

 

Breadmaker Sandwich Bread

Sandwich Bread via elisebakes

I finally broke out the breadmaker and put it to use last week.  First up: sandwich bread.  I used the recipe listed in the booklet included with the machine and it turned out great.  It had a great texture and density, but was a tad salty.  Needless to say, we manage to polish off the whole loaf before the next morning.sandwichbread4sandwichbread2

Breadmaker Sandwich Breadsandwichbread5

  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tbsp. sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 packet active dry yeast
  1. Remove bread pan from breadmaker and add milk, sour cream, and oluive oil to it.
  2. In a bowl, mix flour, sugar, and salt together with a whisk.
  3. Add to breadmaker on top of wet ingredients, covering them entirely.
  4. Make a small well in the dry ingredients and add the yeast.
  5. Return bread pan to breadmaker, close lid, and run on basic setting.  I had my crust set to medium.
  6. When cycle is finished, remove bread pan from machine and let it cool.  Remove loaf from breadpan and enjoy!sandwichbread

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